Latvian ancestry rises in Canada, but purity drops

More than 27,800 persons in Canada claimed at least some Latvian ancestry in the 2006 census, a 23 percent increase from five years earlier, according to data prepared by country’s national statistical agency.

However, the number of Canadians whose only ancestry is Latvian dropped almost 12 percentage points during the same period.

Based on a one-in-five sample of Canada’s population, some 7,720 persons reported Latvian as their only ethnic background, while another 20,150 said Latvian was one of their ethnicities, data from the 2006 Canadian census show.

The data on ethnic origin were released in April by Statistics Canada. The numbers are calculated from answers provided by the 20 percent of Canadian residents who completed the so-called “long form” of census questions.

In the 2001 census, a total of 22,610 persons told the census that they have at least some Latvian blood.

Of those, almost 39.3 percent said Latvian was their only ancestry. By comparison, the 2006 census showed single ancestry had dropped to about 27.7 percent of the total.

In the 2006 census, Ontario accounted for 16,630 persons of Latvian descent, or almost 60 percent of the total. While the province remained the place with the most persons of Latvian ancestry, it lost ground from the 2001 census, when Ontario could claim more than 64 percent of total.

British Columbia had the second-highest number of persons with Latvian origins—4,100 (14.7 percent). Alberta had 2,865 (10.2 percent), Quebec had 1,750 (about 6 percent) and Manitoba had 1,320 (4.7 percent).

Alberta’s high ranking may be related to pre-World War II migration. Areas such as Medicine Hat once were home to small communities of Latvian immigrants. Of the persons in Alberta claiming Latvian ancestry, 81.3 percent also claimed at least one other ethnicity. By comparison, overall in Canada, 72.3 percent of those claiming Latvian ancestry also claimed at least one other ethnic origin. In Ontario, just 66 percent claimed multiple ancestries.

Every other province and territory recorded at least some persons of Latvian ancestry. Saskatchewan had 380; Nova Scotia, 375; New Brunswick, 160; Northwest Territories, 150; Newfoundland and Labrador, 65; Yukon Territory, 40; Prince Edward Island, 30; and Nunavut, 10.

More than 200 different ethnicities were reported in the 2006 census, according to Statistics Canada. Persons with Estonian ancestry totaled 23,930, while Lithuanians numbered 46,690.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

One thought on “Latvian ancestry rises in Canada, but purity drops

  1. Somebody should start a Latvian dating service here in N. America so Latvians can meet other Latvians… (or at least set up speed dating at every dziesmu svetki, ALJA kongress, 2×2, etc.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *